CALM TALK 01 Leaving Physical Traces｜ Taichi Kasami (Artist)
Talking with Taichi Kanami, words such as "traces of the body" and "the collision of the body and the world" often come up. These words come naturally to him because he started his artistic expression through sculpture, a medium that involves physical action, and has been on the verge of colliding with the limits of his body and the environment through mountain climbing. Even if you were unaware of this process, you would be able to sense the unmistakable reality and universality in his works.
On a long rainy autumn weekend, we interviewed Mr. Kanami just before he left for the Himalayan expedition for the group exhibition "Aftercare to Overthrow.
Creating the work itself is a physical act.
The statement for the group exhibition "Aftercare for Stepping Over," which was held at "Akibatamabi 21" on the outskirts of Akihabara, reads, "We become aware of the relationship between the place where expression is born, such as a particular region, community, or natural environment, and that expression. Then, we are confronted with contradictions and difficulties, such as location-specific regulations, maladaptation to the community, and differences between the expectations of others derived from the location and the direction of expression.
Five artists gathered under this theme, using the relationship between place and artwork as a motif. Kanami's work is an installation that combines photographs of the process of climbing an icefall, climbing tools, and Styrofoam, a building material that looks like ice.
The field of expression is the natural environment, the mountains, and this time it is the icefall where I am ice climbing. The mountain is called Azumayama (四阿山) in Nagano Prefecture, and it is one of the most famous ice fall areas in Japan, with many 100-meter class waterfalls called "Yonagofudo" lined up on the cliffs. One of the waterfalls there is named "Seirogan" (laughs).
The unique name "Seirogan" was given by a climber. The unique name "Seirogan" was given by a climber, who said it means that the thought of climbing this waterfall makes his stomach churn with pain. The artist himself explained about his work.
I don't know where to start. I climbed this together with the person in the photo. In the first picture, you can see the Seirogan in the back, and I was approaching it through the snow. Next, my partner was climbing from the bottom of the Seirogan, and I was holding the lifeline and taking pictures of him. I also climbed up and took pictures at the middle level, and finally, here is the thinnest part. I took photographs of the changes in the scenery that accompanied the movement of my body or the act of climbing, and exhibited them as an installation.
In addition to the photographic images, I mounted the photographs with this common insulation material called Styrofoam, and used this material to construct ice axes and ice screws that I actually use when I climb. I developed the theme of presenting here the traces of my body, such as the carabiners I actually use, the gloves I wore, and the jacket I wore, after I climbed up and came back down.
During these climbs, Mr. Kazami also uses a medium format camera, which is bulky and difficult to handle, to take photographs. The creation of the work itself is a very physical act. The photographs and the materials used for the actual climbing equipment were combined to immerse the viewers in the extraordinary experience of ice climbing. We can feel the coldness of the air and the breath of the climbers that Mr. Kazami experienced.
Encountering oneself and the world, friction
He said, "My original experiences were canoeing, camping, and skiing with my parents. But it wasn't the mountains. There were books by Makoto Shiina, Chisuke Noda, and Naomi Uemura at home. I started reading them in my upper elementary school years, and I also read Michio Hoshino's books, and that's when I first became aware of how nice this world was and how good nature was.
In fact, it was Mr. Kanami who started mountain climbing at the invitation of his father. Although he stopped climbing when he was in high school, he headed back to the mountains when he entered art college. He met someone who taught him mountaineering, and he even tried his hand at winter mountaineering, gradually becoming an aspiring alpine climber.
On the day of our interview, he was just before leaving for Nepal to challenge an unexplored peak in the Himalayas with a team recruited by Yasuhiro Hanaya, a mountaineer and winner of the Pierrot d'Or, a prize given to outstanding climbers.
On the other hand, he has loved drawing and creating since childhood. He naturally went to art college and chose the sculpture department because of his love of three-dimensional objects.
The medium of sculpture is quite physical," he said. It is a battle against gravity, and it is also a battle against materials. It is also physical. It's about what it means to put something in place, or to build it. I feel a sense of reality when I do that. It is a clash between the body and the world. That's how I create and communicate something.
I also feel this when I go deep into nature, when I do natural activities. It's like the encounter between my body, mind, and the world, like friction. When I feel that, I feel myself and the world. I am fascinated by this and think it is important. I am doing a variety of sculptural media and activities that go into nature, because I think they might go well together.
Starting with the physical medium of sculpture, Kanami's work has continued to develop as he expresses the traces of his own body in each location and natural environment, regardless of the method he uses.
All we can do for the environment is to continue to express ourselves in a foolish way.
Mr. Kazami was featured in a campaign for HERENESS' "CALM" series made from polyester recycled from clothes. He told us that the lightweight, airy, and warm "CALM JACKET" is ideal for mid-layers during mountaineering, and finally we asked him about his relationship with the environment.
He said, "What I can do personally is to share my physical senses with nature, because I am deeply involved in nature activities. I think that's probably where it all starts. I can't take care of things that are beyond the reach of my imagination. That is why environmental destruction is happening.
Everyone is trying to take care of the person in front of them. After all, isn't this a repetition?
For example, the developed countries in Europe and the U.S. that are trying to protect the environment are also trying to protect the environment, and the developing countries that are trying to become rich while emitting CO2 are trying to make their countries and families rich, which is the principle of human behavior.
In the same way, the natural environment can only change from a place of love, such as "I want to cherish the scenery in front of me," or "I want to cherish the mountains that bring me rich experiences. The only thing I can do is to hold exhibitions like this one, or to send out messages to the public. That is all I can do, say, and talk about. I can't talk big about it. Taichi Kagami
Born in 1993 in Kanagawa Prefecture. Graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts in 2020 with a degree in sculpture. He presents sculptures and photographs through the world and nature he feels with his own body. He is also active in mountaineering and has climbed mountains in the Himalayas and Alaska.